Mouth That Roars

Bill Liblick has made a name for himself of National TV Talk Shows where he spouted his outspoken views from the front row. Now he offers you his opinion every week in the "MOUTH THAT ROARS" Column in the Sullivan County Post.

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August 29th, 2013

Labor Day Weekend of Summers Past

By Labor Day weekend Arnold Graham and Howard Rapp would be exhausted and running on a pilot light. They would be busy putting the final touches to the hundreds of shows planned at our famous hotels, bungalow colonies, and seasonal communities. Sadly, that was a time when the hills were alive. It has now dwindled down to around fifteen.

Who are Arnold Graham and Howard Rapp you might ask? They are the talent agents from Charles Rapp Enterprises who booked the majority of the performers that turned the Catskill Mountains into the entertainment capital of the world.

Each year we wait with bated breath to find out who will be appearing at Bethel Woods, announcements are filled with drum rolls and much exhilaration. We quickly forget all the big names that appeared in Sullivan County.

I remember the thrill of driving up on route 17 getting excited by seeing the billboards listing all the big named entertainers. Bob Hope, Milton Berle, Donna Summer, Tony Bennett, Sammy Davis Jr., Steve and Edyie, Tom Jones, Ringo Starr, Bette Midler, Billy Ray Cyrus, Eddie Fisher, Connie Francis, George Burns, Shecky Greene, Buddy Hackett, Pat Cooper, Don Rickles, Joan Rivers, Robert Klein, Jerry Seinfeld, and Shirley Bassey to name just a few.

Even Lisa Lampanelli, the hottest comedian out there today, worked the late shows at the Villa Roma just a few short years ago.

Yes indeed, they were all here, and not just at one or two locations. When you think of what we had, one still has to wonder – what happened?

Arnold Graham and Howard Rapp are probably two of the nicest, caring, professional, and hardworking people one could ever meet. They truly love what they do. I recently sat down with Graham who was featured in an upcoming movie on the Catskill Mountains to reminisce about our past, and talk about our future.

“Those were unbelievable days, everyone was having fun. Every entertainer wanted to be booked at a Catskill Mountain Resort. I remember driving up Ray Romano and John Stewart to play a late show at the Concord and how excited they were.”

Graham, who still keeps an office in Sullivan County, now focuses the bulk of his growing business in Florida, on corporate events, and private parties. “We offer all types of entertainment at all price ranges. From comics, singers, bands, to novelty acts, we strive in making every function memorable and enjoyable.”

Graham admits his love is still the Catskill Mountains. “It’s very hard to let go of a place I love, and spent my entire life. It is very difficult to see what has happened,” he said with a crackle in his voice.

“I walk through Monticello, Liberty, Fallsburg, and I get a lump in my throat. I feel as if a bomb hit the area, and we left it. I will pray that the casino amendment ends all this.

Charles Rapp Enterprises maintained a corporate office at the Concord for over thirty years. “These are very difficult times, and I hope and pray we will see better days. Hopefully voters will approve the amendment on Election Day and we will once again become a major resort destination.”

As this summer season draws to a close, we all need to reflect on our cherished past, perhaps it will help us move forward and work towards an even brighter future.

Entertainment will once again thrive in Sullivan County if we vote YES for resort destinations.
Thank you Arnold Graham and Howard Rapp for all you have done for Sullivan County past and present.

Arnold Graham can be reached at Charles Rapp Enterprises at (212) 247-6646 or via email at to discuss all your entertainment needs.

Bill Liblick has made a name for himself of National TV Talk Shows where he spouted his outspoken views from the front row. Now he offers you his opinion every week in the “MOUTH THAT ROARS” Column in the Sullivan County Post

4 comments to Labor Day Weekend of Summers Past

  • Elaine Grossinger Etess

    A wonderful article about 2 very special gentlemen. A tribute to what was and a hope for what will be.

    Sullivan County was the pioneer and set the patterns for the resort industry .nation wide. Arnold and Howie really helped to make it all happen.

    I know that those of us who were part of the great Catskill Era are proud of our heritage and hope there will be a revival very soon.

    Elaine Grossinger Etess
    Boca Raton, Florida

  • Wow– It’s about time you get the recognition you deserve. And then some…….. You deserve much more..
    I’ve always said you guys are a treasure trove containing the history of showbiz and it should be documented in a historical documentary.
    I have nothing but praise for the you Arnold..and the Rapps

    Then again, eh, I could be wrong.. ( smile )

  • Steve Gastwirth

    Even for someone who was truly a child during that “Golden Era”, I’ve come to appreciate what a wonderful experience the Carskills held for all who were fortunate enough to know it. The experience involved nature, human interaction, our senses and a simple joy that we seem to have forsaken in this new millenium.
    Sorely missed, the world would be a better place if we could bring back the elements of those wonderful days and apply them to the world we now live in.

  • Only spent one weekend at the Concord and another at the Grosingers….was a little too young to go with my parents all those times in the summer….but I’ll never forget them waking me up to watch them do the new dance they had just learned…one, two, cha cha cha!! It would be a joy to see today’s crop of comedians and singers. What a perfect place to restore and visit.

    Mimi Scott